“Useful” Music (SEOUL TAKEOVER)

We are constantly on the computer trying to “get things done.”


It isn’t easy to do things efficiently on the internet. Attention is liable to drift like a breath strip in an ocean gale.


I’ve become accustomed to finding music to play in the background while I “work”. Music without words, music that creates atmosphere, music that, in a sense, is “useful.”

Ambient music flourishes on the internet. Amidst the clean, organized rivers of text and image that pour from our screens, ambient music hovers like an incandescent mist, innocuous, utopian, intoxicating. It keeps us locked in this or that highly unnatural contortion we’ve managed to twist our bodies into to answer FB messages while making it all feel sustainable and true. Retina displays become complex ecologies that breathe and smile on the wings of a cresting synthesizer. Emails are soundtracked to feel like momentous assertions of creativity and will-power. And yet, ambient music is at heart patient, devotional, spiritual often – and thus is very anti-internet. Its this tension that makes it so ripe and so real in this context – a tool to remember ourselves, and a tool to forget, insidious and generous, helping us be productive little members of society while reminding us of the sublime, boundless void.

Here are a couple randomly selected greatest hits from my productivity-centric business lifestyle. Best enjoyed with cinnamon coffee and 17 tabs open on Chrome or equivalent.

Kyle Bobby Dunn “Ways Of Meaning” – Kinda like spray-on mosquito repellent, it lands on your skin from a distance and covers you like a misted atmosphere, as opposed to, say, mosquito repellent “”cream.”” The first song is called “”Dropping Sandwiches (In Chester Lake).”” He has his wits about him and is musically generous I feel, and I really respond to that, when I need that.

Emeralds “Allegory of Allergies” – This record is like the moment when you add a final extra splash of hot water to a bath that has lost its original scalding temperature. The heat slowly drifts from your feet towards your chest and laps in gentle ebbs up the cliffs of your shoulders. Ancient algae and Loch Ness monsters and empty whiskey bottles in a British swamp.


Dirty Beaches “Love Is The Devil” – Fill a glass 50-50 with rain and red wine and chug it while re-enacting a Marc Chagall painting in a 24-hr McDonalds. Earnest and right and wrong, so, human.